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  • Alistair Tait

Golf doesn’t need petitions

There are times when I despair at the attitudes of some who play this stick and ball game.

This is one of these times.

As Martin Dempster reported in yesterday’s Scotsman, a petition has been launched in Scotland to try to get the Scottish government to open Scottish golf courses. As if the Scottish government doesn’t have enough on its hands right now.

Simon Norris, a member of Ratho Park Golf Club in Edinburgh, is the man behind the petition - He told the Scotsman:

"I am a keen golfer in Scotland and would like to be able to get back to playing soon.”

Don’t we all?

"I would like to recommend that we consider allowing people to play golf again, now,” Norris added.
"I am frustrated at the speed of the government allowing golfers back onto their courses during this lockdown period.”
"There are discussions going on between the Scottish Government, Department of Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Scottish Golf, Active Scotland and sportscotland. I feel there is a great deal of discussion between these bodies, but no one is asking ordinary golfers their opinion.”

Norris isn’t the only royal & ancient game lover frustrated at not being able to get out on the fairways. Golfers in the rest of the United Kingdom are too. Golf clubs want a return to action as soon as possible, since many fear going to the wall as result of lost revenue. However, petitioning government is a step too far. It actually may be counterproductive, especially at a time when we’re nearing a return to the fairways.

Golf courses in the Irish Republic are set to reopen on the 18th May, while the R&A has proposed guidelines on how golf can return in the UK under strict social distancing rules.

I’ve heard talk of UK golf courses reopening as early as May 11. Whether that’s true or not, is another matter.

What bothers me and many in the game is this attitude that we somehow deserve special attention. Norris isn’t the first to consider petitioning government. There was talk of just that pre-lockdown. I had many debates with friends and colleagues early on in the lockdown about the pros and cons of playing golf, with many arguing vehemently that golf should be allowed.

As I wrote earlier this week, our game still suffers from an elitist image. That image isn’t helped by making demands on government when it has much bigger issues to deal with.

It’s true that since golf is an outdoor sport social distancing can be more easily respected. The strict guidelines the R&A has drafted will help us do just that once we return to the fairways. However, the same could be said about other pastimes, such as hill walking, bird watching, rambling, sailing etc. I don’t see lovers of those past times petitioning government.

If lovers of other pursuits can wait in relative patience for the government to give them the green light, why can’t some golfers? Thankfully most Scottish golfers agree with me. As I write, Norris’s petition had secured just 357 signatures.

Golf doesn’t need petitions.

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